Broad Street is open to buses again after several months of closure while construction work was carried out. I was there yesterday and took some photos of the new design:
Can you see what’s wrong with the new design? It’s not clear where the road ends and the pavement begins. There’s no kerb. It’s all completely level and aside from slightly different coloured bricks there’s no distinction between the different spaces. It’s unsafe, especially for the visually impaired.
I wrote about shared spaces earlier this year and also about my disappointment when the city council voted to allow buses into what they originally wanted to be a pedestrian area. It’s either a road for motor vehicles or it isn’t. You can’t put buses into a pedestrian area and say it’s still a pedestrian area or even partly pedestrianised. I don’t object to having roads for buses. I’m a huge fan of mass transit. What I do object to is the failure to make clear this is a road for buses. They have made it unsafe.
I found out yesterday that Sustrans no longer support shared spaces.
We think we should move beyond the term shared space. It incorrectly implies that motor vehicles can freely and safely mix with people walking and on cycles.
Without adequate priority given to people walking or cycling, it is not appropriate to allow motor traffic access to space that is supposed to prioritise people. Whilst there are good examples of shared space, some schemes based on shared space design principles provide insufficient safety and prioritisation for people or do not meet the needs of specific groups, especially those with visual impairments.
The irony of this is that Sustrans partly funded Broad Street and threatened to withdraw their funding if councillors voted to remove buses and so the majority (23 to 22) voted to keep the buses. Let’s hope that since Sustrans has now changed its position sanity will prevail and the buses will be removed for good. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.